British Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Sep 22, 2021

Ministers, Public Officials Make ‘Substantially Incomplete' Submissions To CoI

Ministers, Public Officials Make ‘Substantially Incomplete' Submissions To CoI

Disclosures made by some Government Ministers and public officials at the request of the ongoing UK backed Commission of Inquiry (CoI) is said to be ‘substantially incomplete.’
A statement issued by Secretary to the Commission Steven Chandler today, May 17, said a letter has since been written to the Attorney General Dawn Smith on the matter.

“The CoI has held a series of hearings over the last two weeks of which the primary focus has been the production of information and documents. There are further such hearings this week. However, the Commissioner (The Rt. Hon Sir Gary Hickinbottom) has also heard a series of applications concerning formal participation in the CoI, and has made orders allowing the Cabinet, Ministers, Members of the House of Assembly and, in her own right, the Attorney General to be formal participants on the basis of their particular constitutional interest in governance.”

The statement continued: “In respect of production of information and documents, the hearings followed letters of the request of mainly Ministers and other public officials to make a voluntary disclosure to the CoI. The disclosure made following those requests, although purportedly full, appeared incomplete; and, after five days of hearings at which the Commissioner took evidence from a number of summonsed witnesses, it was clear that the disclosure made was substantially incomplete and in poor order. The COI has written to the Attorney General with a view to remedying these deficiencies promptly, so that the Inquiry may be efficiently progressed.”

Moreover, the statement informed that to facilitate the next stage of the CoI, the Commissioner is anxious to understand the views of the Ministers and Members of the House of Assembly on governance, but they have made no representations on it to him thus far.

In respect to the above-mentioned, the statement said the Commissioner has since written to the Ministers, Members of the House and the Attorney General asking them to set out their position on governance by reference to a series of questions through their legal counsel.

“The Commissioner has asked for the deficiencies in disclosure to be remedied and for the position statements to be lodged with him by Monday, May 31 2021. The next stage of the hearings will commence shortly after that date,” the statement added.
In the meantime, the statement said that with regards to making the hearings public: “It is the Commissioner’s wish that each hearing is made public to the fullest possible extent. He has provided the Attorney General with an opportunity to make submissions on whether she considers it necessary to blackout (redact) any parts of each transcript before it is made publicly available. Once the Commissioner has received those submissions, he will publish the transcript with any redactions he considers necessary.”

The statement continued: “The Commissioner is resolved to publish the transcripts as soon as possible after each hearing. To date, two transcripts have been published on the COI website, and more will follow in the coming week. In the meantime, following the hearings, the Commissioner has made a number of Orders, many requiring witnesses to produce documents previously requested but not yet disclosed, and Rulings to explain the reasons for the main decisions set out in his Orders. All the Orders and Rulings have now been published on the COI website. A list of hearings to date and those scheduled to take place in the coming week has also been published on the COI website.”

The next stage of the hearings are expected to be live-streamed if the issues of privilege, redaction and the like should not arise.

Related Articles

British Virgin Islands